I am at Changi International Airport. It is 4 o clock in the morning (#traveltip – early rise tickets save time and money) and we are all barely conscious. We spent the evening before indulging in last-minute shopping sprees at Bugis and went to bed at 2 to wake up at 3! Anyway, coming back to the airport. So, we are through with the security and immigration and are now heading to board.
My neck is hanging like that of a broken toy. My eyes are closed but I am up now. Someone says, “We are here!” I open my eyes and straighten my neck to look outside. The sea looks like a vast sheet of crystal reflecting bright sun-rays off the surface.
We land at Ngurah Rai International Airport, which is located around 12-13 kilometers South of Denpasar. Generally, people call this airport Denpasar. (#traveltip – on most websites, you will find it by the name of ‘Denpasar’; the code is DPS).
After completing formalities, which includes immigration and submitting a duly filled form at customs (#traveltip – everyone has to submit it, they provide forms at the airport), we head out. We did not have to go to baggage claim as all of us were carrying light backpacks in the cabin. (#universaltraveltip – travel light)
(#traveltip – At the airport, local sim cards are available at reasonable prices, it is advisable to take one for the sake of better internet)
There are massive idols of (what look like) Hindu Gods but slightly different from the Indian version at the airport. I am intrigued.
We reach the city office of Scoot in Sanur after almost a 45-minute ride. Now, this Scoot is different from Scoot Airways, it is a local fast cruise service provider. They take us to the boarding beach station.
They transfer us into a shuttle bus (#refrenceforIndianfriends- imagine an open air vikram but cleaner). Needless to say, we are all famished by now. We had gorged up on chips and soft drinks but were still quite hungry.
The bumpy yet fun ride ends in just 5 minutes. (#traveltip – keep your hat/cap and shades handy, apply lots of sunblock) (#importanttraveltip -wear/change into shorts and flip flops)
There is still time so I decide to take a stroll. It is not very clean but the topography is interesting. On one side there are old temples with intricate carvings adding a sense of quaint beauty while side by side there are small shops offering beachwear, beads, snacks etc. On the opposite side lies the vast sea.
Some people are enjoying dips despite the scorching sun. Boats and cruises are lined up at the banks alighting and boarding tourists. Finally, our fast cruise arrives and we are summoned to board.
Suddenly, we find ourselves feeling thankful that our tummies are empty. It turns out that the driver takes “fast” quite seriously. Trust me, by the time we reach Nusa Lembongan (approximately 45 minutes), all of us have swallowed our own vomits! (#traveltip – carry Pantop tablets and some lemon drinks to avoid/lessen nausea, Indian freinds – Hajmola/Hingoli will do)
When we get our guts and head together and look at the island, we forget everything. It is picturesque. Crystal clean water offering a spectacular sight of the seabed, clear skies stretching till the horizon and lush hills on the vast beach – this view personifies awesomeness!
We alight and head towards the hill (the one that you can see in the picture above – our bungalow is located on the top of it – I know, awesome!) On the way up, I cannot resist clicking pictures. Rich ethnicity inundating out of every inch – women dressed in traditional clothes, selling artifacts and jewelry, and one side of the skyline decorated with huge pagodas. Wow!
We arrive at the reception of Oka 7 Bungalow (#traveltip – extremely reasonable accommodation at best location) . While waiting for check-in, we order some coffee with snacks.
I realize that the reception area of this bungalow can actually count as a vantage point owing to its perfect positioning atop a hill facing the sea. Even the decoration is so ethnic and beautiful. It offers a perfect blend of nature and culture.
The Room, Lunch and Island Hopping
We check in and our jaw drops. The room is beyond expectations. It looks like we have reached another time. A spacious balcony in the front offering a spectacular view of the sea and room adorning intricate wooden carvings. It is huge, beautifully decorated in Balinese style and well-equipped with amenities, including Wi-Fi, minibar, AC, wardrobe, hot running water in the shower etc.
After a quick shower and rest, we go to the Oka 7 shack restaurant. It is located right at the edge of the hill facing the sea. The view is breathtaking.
After basking in the face of surreal beauty of Mother Nature, we indulge in lunch. We order fruit shakes (#traveltip – keep yourself hydrated in Bali) and main course.
We are finished with lunch and it is almost 2:30 now. We leave to meet our tour guide down the hill. (#traveltip – no need to book them online, you will end up spending more. Guides are easily available on the beach at genuine rates.) (#anothertraveltip – we opted for the shuttle for island hopping, you can rent scooters and bikes if you want)
We board the open-air shuttle bus and the journey begins. Streets in Nusa Lembongan are mostly narrow but all drivers seem experts. In no time, we reach our first destination – the Mangrove Forest. (#traveltip – if you book a shuttle, clarify about additional charges. They ask for extra money for boat ride at Mangrove.)
Mangrove Forest occupies the northeast corner of the island. It is crucial to the environment here as it not only prevents erosion but also shelters the coast. But what is it to a tourist? It is solace. It is achingly peaceful and quiet.
The tranquility is so intense that it is almost like a tangible force. We take a boat and embark on the tour. (#traveltip – you can hire kayaks but then you will be disturbing the serene silence).
Dense, tangled roots of mangroves holding Mother Earth in a clasp so strong and muddy water reflecting the lush tree tops- I do not have words for this sight. It is like deep meditation right in the middle of a forest in broad daylight.
The Mangrove Forest is a must-visit site if you are in South Bali. It becomes an experience that remains with you forever. It is almost like time travel, as if you are literally in the laps of a divine body – the supreme power called nature.
We are off to the next destination – Dream Beach. The drive seems long, our guide informs us that the beach is on the other end of the island – the Southern corner. After almost an hour’s drive, we are here. There is something different about this beach.
We approach towards the shore and the hangover of Mangrove takes a back seat. This beach is exquisite. The waves are so strong that they scare me. I gaze at the tides while playing in the sand at a safe distance.
So far we have been pleasantly surprised at every destination. There has been something unexpected that has taken us aback. At Mangroves – it was the utterly quiet of nature and at Dream Beach – it was the violent waves. We are now walking towards Devil’s Tear, which is just a few meters away from Dream Beach.
Standing at the edge of the cliff, I feel a dozen emotions at once. I understand the moniker quite well now.
I am petrified but in awe, I am happy and yet anxious – I am captivated by the deadly games of the sea. Why is it so angry? Why does it want to shackle the rocks? Where does it want to go? Trust me, if you want to behold the most wild and untamed version of the sea, visit Devil’s Tear before you die.
After gawking at the crazy unleashed waves for I don’t remember how long, we realize that it is about time for sunset. We decide to stay back and watch it.
Scary places can be very romantic. That feeling when you realize that what looks beautiful from a safe distance can be fatal if played with- it reminds me of movies where villains/vamps are just so hot but deadly! Many such irrelevant strings of thoughts dance their way in my head as I sit there and bask in the glorious view.
Day 1 has come to an end. It is now time to head back or so we think. On the way, our driver/guide stops the shuttle and tells us to go and enjoy the panoramic view. We get down and look hither-dither but don’t understand. After a few minutes of confusion, we realize that the garbage area is the vantage point to enjoy the panorama of the island. We burst out into laughter and head back. (#traveltip – do not fall for “panoramic view visit“)
We go to our respective rooms, take a shower and meet at the restaurant for dinner. The view at the night is even more resplendent. We eat and eat and eat for hours together. It starts to rain and things get even more awesome. We take strolls in the drizzle and finally crash for a new day to start.